My weather app tells me the current temperature in London is twenty-six degrees. If I don’t go outside right now, despite the freelance work I have to finish, my right to complain about the British weather for the rest of the year will be revoked. I have errands to run and a step count to improve so a walk to the shops is the ideal excursion for this amazingly warm summer’s day. It will also give me a chance to think about ideas for this week’s blog post.
As I stare longingly at my short denim skirt, I put on my jeans as I’ve learned my lesson about walking in skirts during summer. I step out onto the baking streets of Stoke Newington and while a few blog post ideas begin to blossom, they’re soon forgotten, replaced instead with the need to listen to music – sunshine like this deserves a soundtrack.
My step quickens as I sashay through Hackney, and then Islington. The streets around me hum with people who have managed to disrupt their weekday routine and escape into the outside world. Their faces are turned to the sun, like the flowers that bloom from every garden. Their sweet fragrance fills the air, until the rank smell of garbage wafts by.
I arrive at my destination, sad to see my goal of 10,000 is still some way off. So before I find a spare table in a spare eatery to have lunch and concentrate on my blog post, I decide to visit a stationery shop. I need to buy a birthday card. The British greeting card game is like no other. While you expect to see the same food chain on every block, you don’t expect to see almost the same number of greeting card outlets. Paperchase. Scribbler. Cards Galore. Take your pick. You’ll soon be buying greeting cards for people you don’t even particularly want to greet.
Not yet hungry enough to settle down at a table, I decide to sort out dinner. Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S are all lined up for my convenience. My bank card has had a quiet few days so I decide to treat myself. M&S it is. I could spend hours in this place, and that’s just in the ready-made food aisle. But I have a blog post to write, work to do, so I move myself along, grabbing at meals that will, I know, not taste as delicious as the packaging promises, but the ease of their preparation will override such disappointment. I do buy separate ingredients, in case I have the urge to make a stir-fry from scratch, and I marvel that I can buy a single chicken breast. The UK supermarkets are at their best when catering for those cooking for one. The dessert aisle has a special two-for-one deal and before I know it, a Victoria sponge and strawberry tart have ended up in my basket. At the check-out, my rested bank card quickly looks spent and I realise I’ll have to lock myself away for few days as a result. At least I’ll have delicious treats to keep me company.
Finally, I relent and admit defeat. My step count hovers at 7,000, my brain is empty of blog post ideas, but my stomach has started to growl. I decide to have lunch at Itsu. A warm summer’s day deserves healthy Japanese food. I settle myself at a communal table with an edamame, chicken, avocado and egg salad. A blank notebook page stars at me while I take my first bite. I scribble down a few ideas before two men sit opposite me at the table. Their posh voices cut through my thought process and I’m instantly transfixed by their conversation. One laments his failing business while the other laments his failure to find a suitable backpack. They’re gone too soon and it’s me alone again, with my almost-blank notebook page and now empty salad dish. I pack up and hope a blog post idea will reveal itself on the bus ride home.
As I walk to the stop, I’m accosted by three different charity people, a universal footpath annoyance it would seem. A busker stands just near the stop for bus 73 and she sings ‘Riptide’ which makes me think of summer in Melbourne even though it’s summer in London.
My bus arrives and it twists down the streets towards home. I stare out the window, happy to see so many people enjoying the sunshine. I marvel at how full KFC and McDonald’s are despite the plethora of other, better, lunchtime options. I notice a new piece of street art that has been created in the time it took me to start my journey to the shops and return home.
The bus arrives at my stop. I get off and walk the three minutes it takes to get to my flat. I let myself inside, the sun still warming my skin as I unpack my groceries and take off my shoes. It has been a successful trip to the shops, even though I still don’t have a blog post idea. Oh well, maybe I’ll think of something in time for next week.